How Close Can You Build To A Natural Gas Pipeline?

Trees should be planted or foundations dug a certain distance away from the pipeline. For new residences, businesses, and places of public assembly, API recommends a 50-foot distance from petroleum and hazardous liquids lines (API 2003). Garden sheds, septic tanks, and water wells should be set back 25 feet, while mailboxes and yard lights should be set back 10 feet. Setbacks of 25 feet from residential property borders were the most typical examples in practice, according to the most current assessment examining these issues (TRB 1988).

The committee couldn’t locate any examples of rigorous analytical efforts to determine pipeline setbacks based on risk. In the 1980s, research on liquids pipelines found that two-thirds of deaths and damage, as well as three-quarters of injuries, happened within 150 feet of the site of discharge; only 8% of deaths, none of the injuries, and 6% of property damage occurred farther than 1/2 mile from the pipeline (Rusin and Savvides-Gellerson 1987 cited in TRB 1988). The example from the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington model ordinance (see Box 1-3 in Chapter 1) is a start toward constructing a risk-informed setback, but it only considers the likely area of effect if an explosion occurs, not the likelihood of such an event. The chance of such an event has not been properly evaluated, as stated in Chapter 3, and developing one would be difficult.

Choosing an acceptable setback would be a difficult undertaking. Take into account the following:

If construed as a regulatory “take” requiring compensation to property owners, rights-of-way/setbacks for high-pressure natural gas transmission and hazardous liquids pipelines would have to be wide to limit danger as a result of a high-consequence incident, and so might be costly.

There hasn’t been a cost-benefit study of setbacks that are greater than current practice.

Given the diversity in product, pipe size, pressurization, depth of cover, and other factors, setbacks based on, or guided by, some kind of risk assessment could be difficult to account for.

Local governments, on the whole, prefer simple regulatory methods than complex ones.

What is the safe distance between a natural gas pipeline and a building?

The standard safety gap of 300 mm between natural gas pipe and water pipeline facilities has to be evaluated to account for unintentional damage and provide a safety cushion for the natural gas pipe.

How near to the pipeline can you build?

In the last few weeks, we’ve had a few of inquiries from residents with property on or near the proposed route of a new natural gas pipeline. They have enquired: 1) How close may one of these pipelines be put to a home? and 2) What are the solutions for minimizing the risk of pipes being built in close proximity to other structures if they rupture?

The first question has an easy answer: there are no restrictions on how close gas pipelines can be built to dwellings. Pipeline installation must take place at least a certain distance away from dwellings, according to federal laws. Although the laws include wording requiring operators to protect the pipe from risks in general, much is left to the operator’s discretion. Consider the following scenario:

192.317(a) of the Code of Federal Regulations “Each transmission line or main must be protected from washouts, floods, unstable soil, landslides, or other dangers that could cause the pipeline to move or sustain abnormal loads….

192.325(a) of the Code of Federal Regulations “Any other underground structure not associated with the transmission line shall be at least 12 inches (305 millimeters) away from the transmission line when it is erected. If this clearance cannot be achieved, the transmission line must be safeguarded from damage caused by the other structure’s proximity.

The second question necessitates a longer response. PIPA (the Pipelines and Informed Planning Alliance), a group comprised of industry (including members from interstate natural gas pipeline operators), government, and public officials, created a set of recommended practices for development near existing pipelines. This group has been meeting for years to discuss the very genuine issues about how development and pipelines interact and pose threats to one another. The following are some of the best practices to follow: “Reduce Transmission Pipeline Risk in Residential, Mixed-Use, and Commercial Land Use Development, which states in part:

“…it is wise to design buildings and related infrastructure in a way that minimizes the possible repercussions of a transmission pipeline incident on persons and property. Mitigation approaches that may improve public safety and prevent damage to buildings or infrastructure in the case of a transmission pipeline catastrophe include relocating structures away from the pipeline right-of-way (ROW) and adding more strict building fire safety measures.

It’s perplexing to us that the industry recognizes the value of these types of suggestions yet ignores the importance of applying them to the construction of new pipes near existing structures. We’ve been urging PIPA to be re-energized and address this issue, but it has yet to happen.

The dangers of being near a gas pipeline are proportional to the pipeline’s size and pressure.”

Mark Stephens of C-FER Technologies produced A Model for Sizing High Consequence Areas Associated with Natural Gas Pipelines in 2000, which he prepared for the Gas Research Institute. This study explains and calculates the recommended hazard area radius as a function of line diameter and pressure in great detail (see Figure 2.4 in the report). The hazard area radius, which varies in size from about 100 feet to roughly 700 feet for a 6-inch to 42-inch pipeline, is simply the area in vicinity to the pipeline within which there would be virtually little chance of survival if a pipeline rupture and fire occurred. According to the C-FER model, a 26-inch, 600 psi natural gas pipeline would have a hazard area radius of about 450 feet. Wind, geography, and any protection, like as berms or fire walls, are not factored into the model.

States and local towns may impose their own setbacks between pipes and dwellings if the state does not preempt them. Though it has been debated, no jurisdiction that we are aware of has adopted the C-FER hazard area as the foundation for natural gas pipeline setbacks. See this site for a list of jurisdictions that have enacted setback or consultation ordinances.

A couple of the ordinances accessible through our internet link directly address evacuation, and the PIPA recommendations also cover evacuation. A common theme in a number of recommendations is the use of the word “recommended.” “…buildings should have a safe route of egress with exits that are not rendered inaccessible by the effects of a pipeline disaster. Similarly, cul-de-sac streets that straddle a transmission pipeline should not be planned because the only path of ingress or egress may be blocked during a pipeline event.

Some gas pipelines run through High Consequence Places (essentially, areas with a greater population density), and their operators are expected to maintain an integrity management program that incorporates risk management and pipeline assessments on a regular basis. The pipeline may also be required to have thicker walls or more frequent valve spacing depending on the area.

While we are not aware of any situations in which FERC has denied a new gas pipeline application, there have been instances in which the pipeline route has been modified as a result of environmental, safety, or other issues raised during the FERC proceedings.

What effect does a pipeline have on property value?

Natural gas pipelines are a source of concern not just for the environment and private property rights, but also for the financial well-being of their owners.

According to local Realtors, pipelines can affect property prices by 5 to 40% by making them less appealing to potential buyers.

“People squirm when they see (pipelines),” said James Sherer, a Realtor with Kingsway Realty in Lancaster County.

It’ll matter when you get into those small country plots, even if it’s only a hundred yards away.

Studies and experience

Because of easements, properties are subject to various restrictions. According to Christopher Stockton, a spokesman for Williams, which is seeking to build the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline through Lebanon County, you can’t erect a permanent structure or grow trees directly over them. Pipeline easements, he noted, don’t normally lower overall property values outside of those specific circumstances.

What is the depth of a natural gas pipeline?

With rare exclusions, distribution mains must be at least 24 inches deep. On private land, service lines on distribution systems must be 12 inches deep, and 18 inches deep along roads and streets.

Is it possible to construct over gas lines?

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 (regulation 19) include rules prohibiting the installation of gas pipes beneath structures. There are no laws, on the other hand, that prohibit people from putting structures over existing gas service pipes.

How far away from a gas leak must you be?

If you smell gas outside of your home at a distance of 15 feet or more, you should call the gas company right away. You might be able to go about and smell where the gas odor is strongest to get a better indication of where the leak is.

How close can you build a house to a gas well?

The Federal Housing Administration is housed inside the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) (FHA). The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insures mortgages to assist Americans in purchasing homes.

HUD requires that “a site be rejected if the property being appraised is subject to hazards, environmental contaminants, noxious odors, offensive sights, or excessive noises to the point of endangering the physical improvements or affecting the livability of the property, its marketability, or the health and safety of its occupants,” when determining whether a property is eligible for an FHA-insured loan. All of these dangers are present in the oil and gas industry.

However, HUD goes on to say that “Operating and abandoned oil and gas wells can cause fires, explosions, spray, and other pollution, which can endanger people’s homes…. There may be no existing dwellings within 300 feet of an active or planned drilling site. It’s important to note that this only applies to the facility’s perimeter, not the actual well site.”

A “setback” is the required distance between an industrial plant and a home or other sensitive location. Setbacks of up to 1,000 feet from a home, fresh water well, school, hospital, or public park are required in several Texas communities.

However, in some areas of the country, residences with less than 300 feet of frontage are still subject to setbacks. In Ohio, for example, the setback from a dwelling for a well is 100 feet – not even from the wellpad’s edge – and just 75 feet for a directional well.

This information comes from the Northeast Ohio Gas Accountability Project (NEOGAP).

Are landowners compensated for pipeline construction?

1. What is the Definition of an Easement?

A limited permission to use another’s land for a certain purpose is known as an easement. In contrast to a land sale, an easement envisions a long-term partnership between the landowner and the easement holder, such as a Pipeline Company.

2. Per-Linear-Foot or-Acre Price

For farm land on the site where the pipeline runs, the pipeline corporation often pays the landowner per foot or per acre. The price is determined by the easement’s length. Some businesses charge by the linear rod rather than the linear foot. One (1) linear rod equals sixteen and a half feet (16.5′) when calculating. The pipeline company’s proposals to various landowners can vary by up to 500 percent.

3. Deterioration of the Residue

Damage to land that isn’t taken can often outweigh the value of the area that the pipeline actually goes through. Crop damage from future loss of productivity, loss of access and capacity to develop land through which the pipeline travels for non-agricultural reasons, loss in value of structures near the pipeline, and damages from fear of pipeline leaks or explosions are among the damages. Damages are exacerbated in these circumstances if the pipeline passes close to an occupied structure or a dwelling.

4. Pipeline Subsurface Depth

The majority of easement agreements stipulate a depth of 36 inches (36) underground. However, in order to protect the landowner’s future development possibilities, a minimum of 48 inches should be requested (48). In reality, depending on the type of soil involved, Ohio model requirements mandate a minimum depth of 36-48 inches. If there are subsurface drainage systems or tiles along the pipeline path, they will necessitate even more extensive construction.

5. Easement Width and Temporary Construction Easement

Two easements should be negotiated by landowners. The permanent pipeline easement is the first. This easement is in effect until the pipeline is decommissioned. A 50-foot-wide easement is commonly requested by pipeline operators. Second, in addition to the pipeline easement, there is a temporary construction easement that gives the firm greater area to build the pipeline. The width of this easement is usually between 20 and 40 feet. This easement should expire on a certain date (often at the end of construction).

6. Types of Surface Facilities and Their Locations

Pipelines necessitate some surface infrastructure. Unless the easement specifies otherwise, the corporation is free to build facilities anywhere it wants. As a result, landowners should limit the quantity, kind, and location of surface facilities to the greatest extent practicable.

7. Pipeline Dimensions

Landowners should indicate the diameter of the pipeline that will be used so that the company cannot later replace it with a larger one.

8. Materials and Substances Allowed in the Pipeline

Landowners should endeavor to limit the contents allowed in the pipeline to exclusively natural gas, avoiding other, potentially dangerous elements like sewage or crude oil. The gas should also be smelled, according to the landowner.

9. Indemnification of the landowner

During both the construction and operation phases, the corporation should hold the landowner harmless from the actions or omissions of the independent or subcontractors.

Contractors must be identified.

Landowners can demand that the corporation identify any independent or subcontractors it plans to utilize during construction.

Contractor-Inflicted Damages 11

The landowner should hold the pipeline firm fully responsible for any harm caused by the company’s workers or contractors.

12. Easement Area Rights and Restrictions for Landowners

Once construction is completed, the landowner should endeavor to keep his or her capacity to utilize and enjoy the easement area. Some rights, such as the right to construct parking lots, driveways, and landscaping, may be specifically reserved by the landowner.

13. Access to the Easement Area

The landowner should endeavor to restrict access to the easement area for the company’s employees and representatives. The landowner could, for example, restrict access to particular hours of the day or require notice. Furthermore, the agreement should specify the permissible ingress and egress routes, i.e. access to the easement area.

Restoration of the Easement Area

The landowner should demand that the company repair any land that has been damaged as a result of the pipeline’s installation or operation. This could involve things like reseeding or landscaping. This could include particular reimbursements for the loss of trees, crops, and other natural resources.

15. Single Line Easement Agreement

The easement arrangement should only apply to a single pipeline, according to the landowner. Without this clause, the corporation would be able to build more pipes along the same route without needing to get a new easement.

16. Activities Outside the Easement Area are Restricted

All operations should be limited to the Easement Area, and any firm employees or staff should have written permission before venturing outside of it.

17. Stream Crossings Identification

The corporation should list all streams it plans to cross, as well as a full description of how it plans to cross the stream and a declaration about stream restoration.

18. The Different Types of Roads That Can Cross the Easement

The landowner should define which types of roads he or she can construct without the company’s approval across the easement. This will assist the landowner in making the most of the property’s future potential.

19. Types of Ponds, Lakes, or Tanks That Can Cross Through An Easement

Without the company’s consent, the landowner should designate which types of ponds, lakes, or tanks he or she can create on the easement area. This will assist the landowner in making the most of the property’s future potential.

20. Contact Information for the Pipeline Company

The landowner should be given the contact information for a pipeline business contact person. In addition, if the contact person changes, the corporation shall notify the landowner 30 days in advance.

Third-Party Easements (No. 21)

Two items should be specified by the landowner. To begin, he should limit the company’s capacity to issue easements to third parties throughout the easement area. This ensures that no one else can use the easement without your consent. Second, the landowner should reserve the ability to issue further easements over the easement area to third parties. In the future, another company may require an easement across the pipeline easement.

22. Construction Schedule in Writing

A construction and installation schedule should be submitted to the landowner.

23. Define the term “abandonment”

In the easement agreement, the corporation should define “abandonment.” This will make it easier to avoid future conflicts. Abandonment is usually defined as a minimum period of time when the pipeline is no longer in operation.

Structures are removed in number 24.

If the pipeline is abandoned, the landowner should force the corporation to remove its structures and pipes. Without such a clause, the corporation is free to leave its old structures on your site, jeopardizing the property’s future usage.

25. Select an Alternate Dispute Resolution Procedure

In the event that a conflict arises later, the landowner and company should agree on a process of dispute settlement. Landowners should opt for a low-cost, high-efficiency technique.

Note: This article is mainly meant to provide general information. It does not cover the unique concerns that a landowner might have when negotiating an easement with a pipeline company, and it is not a replacement for legal assistance and guidance tailored to your individual case.

What are the risks associated with pipelines?

Corrosion, excavation damage, inappropriate operation, material/weld/equipment failure, and natural force damage are all possible causes of pipeline mishaps (i.e., Hurricane Katrina).

Should I buy a house that has a gas pipeline running through it?

You should never purchase a home that has a commercial gas or petroleum pipeline and easement on it. That transaction/investment has nothing but negative consequences.